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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've signed up for a ride later this month. I'm a 44 y/o male who's in reasonably good shape (I run mostly, but also do road biking and triathlons-- I've run a marathon, completed a century road bike ride, and done a few sprint distance triathlons). I am just starting to get into mountain biking and thought I would sign up for this trail ride. It's 50 miles of single track and gravel (we don't have many hills here in Florida). I have a Trek 880 Antelope bike that is in pretty good condition. My question is, am I crazy, stupid, or both? Do you think I can make it through this ride? Or am I wasting my time and money??? The trail has ratings from beginner to intermediate to challenging. Is challenging the highest category? Any opinions you can give would be appreciated.
 

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While I can't speak intelligently on behalf of the Floridian conditions (I'm currently under 4 feet of snow and gathering), these kind of rides typically aren't real competition heavy. It's just an opportunity to enjoy an endurance ride with other like-minded individuals. Keeping that in mind, you aren't crazy for signing up at all. Just enjoy the ride for what it is and don't hesitate to take a breather or even bail out early once it stops being fun.

You figure only a handful of riders make a living racing their bikes in the entire world. The rest of race for fun and this isn't even even a competition but rather a recreational event. Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your input. I do have a bit of stubborness in my personality, so I'll finish the ride. I just know from some of the training I've been doing that it seems that off road riding takes more out of you than road biking. I think it will be a great challenge!
 

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You are crazy, stupid or both. Welcome to mountain biking. You belong to us.

+1 on all SlimTwisted wrote.
 

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for a beginner mtb-er 50 miles may be challenging. i highl suggest (along with any other sport) that you try doing the event on your own at your planned race-pace to see how it turns out. if you find yourself struggling on the terrain/bike after 20-30 miles i say give yourself some more time to practice before getting into it.

unless you're doing it for pure fun and dont mind taking the risk of it ending in a "dnf" after 30-40 miles than go for it.

i'm a competitive swimmer for over 10 years, and i wouldn't dare jump into a long distance event without ever swimming it at least one or a few times during my practices. Or at least one time on my own at "race-pace." But then again, there are many people that spectate swimming competitions and i wouldn't like the humility of stopping in the middle of a race that i couldn't finish because my lungs or legs gave out on.

but in the end, i say give it a practice run first. then go for it. make your your bike is in good condition
 

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I Have Cookies
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Good idea in the training ride louissssss that's exactly what I was gonna suggest! A few weeks ago we had a fun ride at our local trails and it was broken down into two sections the beginners was first it was ten miles of gravel/double track most of it was climbing then it went on some kinda rocky dh and back up again. It was relativly easy. And the advanced section was our regular weekly ride area. A little over 7 miles of Technical singletrack most of the roadies that entered dropped out after the beginner section because it was to hard on them. ( I think they were worried about getting hurt on the harder trails) so yah it's kinda a whole diffrent beast this off road biking thing.
 

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Have Cake and beat it 2
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try the ride before hand if you can, as 70 or 80 km can be challenging, ride at your own pace not any one elses or you will burn out. go and have a read of the endurance threads as there is great advice for distance riding.
food is important on long rides, think to be restocking every 40min or so or you will 'bonk' or run out of energy. types of food to take, bananas are good for magnesium to avoid cramping, gu or other energy food, gatorade and water for hydration, amounts depending on temp. here in aus for example it can to to 35 degrees f so plenty of water has to be planned for.
practice technial stuff, even over short distances to build up skillz and the week before the event go light on training to avoid overtraining before the event and again burning out during the race.
 

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You'll be fine...

You have your road base to fall back on. Some of the people giving you their opinions are new to cycling. You're not. The key to longer distance mountain biking is the same as road cycling: The ability to keep yourself at a consistent suffer rate over a longer period of time.

Prepare on your mountain bike like you would on your road bike for a century. Hydrate and fuel the same way as well.

Have fun.

Ken (under 2' of snow).
 

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One more thing...

I didn't answer your trail rating question:

The answer is there isn't really an answer. It's all relative.

Beginner, intermediate and challenging will change depending on your location. It also depends on the type of challenge. The most effective rating system I've seen for corss country mountain biking is a dual rating system based on technical challenge (one rating) and aerobic challenge (2nd rating).

If the "challenge" in your ride is aerobic, you're set. If it's technical, you can certainly practice but you can also get off your bike and walk over the parts you're not comfortable riding. Unless the trail is mostly technical, your ride won't be dramatically impacted but walking over the technical parts.

Rule #1: Have fun.

Good lick and good riding,

Ken
 

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I'm with Ken and others who say try to get some ride time ahead of the actual ride date, especially on what might be considered the more challenging portions technically. Aerobically, I think you will be fine. It's about getting comfortable handling the bike when it seems to want to throw you off, learning to pick lines where you can carry some momentum and experience some success, and building some confidence on that success. Still though, even in as good shape as you are, you'll be feeling that 50 miles. Have fun with it. You'll likely be hooked after this.
 

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No Sweat!

I did my 1st race at 53, total of 42 miles, Test of Metal, a real grinder in BC. I finished with a smile. Expect a sore butt. Train a bit if you can, and warm up prior to the start. Hydrate yourself lots.

My race was shorter, but not flatter.

Race for the fun, not placing/position. Good luck, Jim
 

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Welcome to mtnbikeing Iteach!! I too came from a road/tri background lots of 100 milers and felt i was fairly powerful climber, @ 49 ('95) Got my first mtnbike thought oh heck I'll clean up here!!!...Uh..........nooooooo.........we do have lots of hills, sand, rocks in New Mexico (God's Country) and climbing is waaayy different in the dirt than the road!! traction was the big difference and the weight of the bike. havoing to look at theground and pay more attention was different for me too. I agree with some of the folks above train in the dirt for the 50 miler as you would on the road. Stay well fed, hydrated but already knew that!! Wish u fun!!
 

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You might be fine. If you had the same question up here in VT, I'd call you nuts for signing up for a "challenging" 50 mile ride. Down there, who knows........I but I agree with the others, get out and ride the trail at a moderate pace by yourself, and see what it looks like. Even pro XC racers do a lap or two of the trail before race day, just so they know ahead of time what to expect, instead of that "oh crap four foot tall log in trail!" feeling hits.

More importantly, see how far you can get. You've got roadie experience, but you're using your upper body a lot more in mountain biking, so it's not unusual to have your legs still strong, but your arms about ready to drop off. Let the other riders know, generally somebody will volunteer to stay somewhat near you, and turn around before you go too far. The person who wanted to be your buddy will ride back with you to make sure you make it. We do that all the time here..........we want to push you, yeah, but we don't want to have to send out search and rescue either.
 

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if you are in Florida, down here you pedal all the way. My experience in the mountains in N. Carolina was that I could ride for ever.
Like many others have told you HAVE FUN. Where in Fl are you at? you can go to Alafia and have tons of fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I am in Rockledge. It's on the central east coast near Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral where they launch the Space Shuttle. The ride is in White Springs up in the Ocala National Forest. I've been to Alafia once but did a trail run there, not a trail ride. I've been riding on trails around here at local parks that have single tracks. Lots of sugar sand! I hope there isn't much of that up in Ocala. Thanks for all your advice. You really seem like a nice bunch of people and made me feel very welcome.:)
 

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I can't remember which member has the signature "It's not winning the race that's important, its having the courage to enter" or something similar.

Yes, 50 miles will be hard. Really hard for a beginner.

You will be miserable.

You will cuss yourself, your bike, your family, and any small woodland creature that dares cross your path.

Yes, you will love every second of it.

Mountain biking is about fun. Go have some of it.
 

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Ken in KC said:
I didn't answer your trail rating question:

The answer is there isn't really an answer. It's all relative.

Beginner, intermediate and challenging will change depending on your location. It also depends on the type of challenge. The most effective rating system I've seen for corss country mountain biking is a dual rating system based on technical challenge (one rating) and aerobic challenge (2nd rating).

If the "challenge" in your ride is aerobic, you're set. If it's technical, you can certainly practice but you can also get off your bike and walk over the parts you're not comfortable riding. Unless the trail is mostly technical, your ride won't be dramatically impacted but walking over the technical parts.

Rule #1: Have fun.

Good lick and good riding,

Ken
 
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